Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday
We had our reading test. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have mathematics. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Cow parsley
Punctuates the hedgerows, the lacy white heads bend in the rain,
And today we have naming of parts.
This is the adverb. And this
Is the adverbial clause, whose use you will see,
When it modifies the verb. And this is the connective,
Which next year must be called a conjunction. The cow parsley
Drips in the pouring rain, as though it is crying.
Which in our case we must not do.
This is the exclamation mark, which creates surprise
Or suggests shock. And please do not let me
See you using more than one. (You can express shock without it
If there is sufficient power in your words.) The cow parsley
Is fragile and short-lived, but each year
It returns to the hedgerows, despite not because of us.
And this you can see is the subjunctive mood. The purpose of this
Is to express a wish that is contrary to fact, as you see. You may be asked
To name it in next year’s test. (It offers rather a pretty turn of phrase.)
Rapidly backwards and forwards language changes
As the cow parsley grows, and dies, so words do too:
They call it evolution. Language changes in our hands.
They call it evolution: it is perfectly fine
If you are not afraid to let it happen. Language must change
It cannot stand still. And this happens over time
Which in our case we have not got; and the cow parsley
Silent in all of the hedgerows and the rain bows the lacy white heads
For today we have naming of parts.
(With thanks to Nancy Gedge for the beautiful photograph, and to Henry Reed for inspiration. Here’s the original poem: Naming of Parts.)